Purchase and Procurement - A Sustainable Perspective 

Purchasing and procurement are an essential component in running a dental practice. Purchasing refers to the buying of goods via invoices (a contract to buy), and procurement refers to the best choice of goods, best source and the process of the goods getting to your dental practice.

The two concepts are closely related as they usually occur together.

The 6Rs of Purchasing can be summarised:

6Rs of Purchasing

By applying these principles, we aim to be more sustainable, which is not only cost effective, but also adds efficiency to the practice, and manages environmental impact by reducing burden on recycling and reducing wastage of materials.

The Environmental and Sustainability Committee has identified three principles of procurement:

  1. Buy in bulk (Right quantity) to reduce the delivery frequency (Right time) which in turn reduces the carbon footprint made by transport of goods.
  2. Ordering should be predictable (Right time, right price, right place). It should be based on numbers of items required per treatment room for days/weeks/months.
  3. Source bulk products with a long shelf life (Right quantity).
  4. Search for environmentally friendly, locally sourced products (Right place) that can help lift the local economy – hence less transport kilometres required to obtain delivery of goods from companies local to you or at least in your state.
  5. Ask suppliers to provide eco-friendly alternatives to plastic-containing bibs/disposables/toothbrushes/piksters
  6. Cut the printing by
    1. Online registration new patient forms
    2. Referral letters online
    3. Email instead of print
    4. Ask suppliers/advertisers/companies to cut printed material and send you emails!
    5. Switch paper recording of infection control protocols/patient records/office documents/receipts
  7. Re-use and recycle
  8. Use reusable rather than single use disposable wherever possible eg use stainless steel instruments, glass wells instead of single use plastic, autoclavable suction tips
  9. Provide bins for recycling, train staff to use the correct bin, recycle e-waste and other non-surgery practice items E-Waste Recycling (adasa.asn.au)
  10. Digital technology- digital plates reduce use of chemicals and waste as images are stored into a clinical computerized system.
  11. Digital scanning- reduces the need for alginate, impression tray, plaster waste, no need for courier pickup. Digital models can be stored on file, or actual plastic digital models reused again and again.
  12. Ask suppliers to send in eco-friendly packaging ie no plastic bubble wrap, and in the most efficient way possible with all items in the order in the same box.
  13. Advocate for change
  14. Join our initiative at upcoming events (see ADA SA DI email newsletter and CPD and event listings for details)
  15. Email the Environmental and Sustainability Committee [email protected] for topics, enquiries, and policy changes that you strongly feel towards!

Article by ADA SA Environmental and Sustainability Committee